First Country is a compilation of the best new country songs, videos & albums that dropped this week. Here, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire offer a new take on a McEntire classic, while Alison Krauss and Robert Plant offer a glimpse of their upcoming first collaboration album in 14 years.
Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton, “Does He Love You”
On her new three-part album, Revived, Remixed, Revisited, McEntire reimagines several of the biggest hits from her catalog. Here, in her very first duet with Dolly Parton, the two superstars bring a quieter, more intimate spirit to “Does He Love You,” which McEntire originally turned into a hit in 1993, via a fiery vocal showdown with Linda Davis. On this newly-released Dave Cobb production, sturdy piano and sensitive guitar work give space for two of country music’s most expressive, singular vocalists to explore the shades of pain, desperation, anger and even resignation that fill this classic country hit.
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, “High and Lonesome”
Fourteen years ago, Plant and Krauss crafted a Platinum-selling, six-time Grammy winner with their 2007 project Raising Sand. Here they reunite for the first glimpse of music from their upcoming musical reunion Raise the Roof, out Nov. 19 via Rounder Records.
“I’m lost out on the ocean/ I will count on the seven seas/ So all alone, so high and lonesome/ Does she still think of me,” Plant pleas, as haunting vocals courtesy of Krauss weave in and out. The song, written by Plant and T-Bone Burnett, offers a driving shuffle accented with rhythmic handclaps, wrapping around lyrics soaked in vaguely spiritual imagery, and a tale of someone determined to find love.
Luke Bryan, “Up”
This piano-laced track from Bryan centers around the song’s one-word title, from growing up in a rural town, running the scoreboard up during football games, to looking up to a higher power for comfort and assurance. With clever wordplay by writers Jeremy Bussey, Taylor Phillips and Bobby Pinson, this track’s vibrant chorus lends an ever-so-slight gospel vibe to Bryan’s signature country sound.
Randy Rogers Band, “Picture Frames”
This Texas mainstay group reunites with their original producer Radney Foster on this fiddle-drenched track, which lead singer Randy Rogers penned alongside Drew Kennedy. In this sweet, dance-ready ode, picture frames line the walls of a hallway, each one highlighting memories of a lifetime of love, from sunrises over Bourbon Street and summers in New Orleans.
Willie Jones, “Get Low, Get High”
Jones is all about the optimistic, hopeful vibes on this track, which he co-wrote with Cary Barlowe and Brandon Day. “You need the rain before the sunshine,” he sings on this potent blend of hip-hop, soul and country, joined by bright horns, inspiring piano work and a joyous choir. Here, he creates an anthem about staying the course even in hard times, in anticipation of better days ahead. The release follows his previous efforts including “Down by the Riverside,” and “American Dream.”
Chase Rice, “If I Were Rock & Roll”
Rice offers a solo write on this followup to his Billboard Country Airplay No. 1 hit with Florida Georgia Line, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.” Rice’s vocal takes on a more ragged quality than in his previous releases, as his lyrical portraits are soaked in American nostalgia, with tributes to late NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, American flags, Johnny Cash and the SEC. The lyrics are bolstered by a dash of shimmering, Springsteen-esque production and raspy guitar lines on this Jay Joyce-produced number.
Mike Ryan, “Jacket On”
“She meant for good when she told me goodbye,” Ryan sings in this track co-written with Brandy Clark and Brent Anderson. That may be true, but, as Ryan sings in this moody song, fizzled relationships don’t always come with a clean break. Here, Ryan plays it cool and hopeful with his vocals, while the track’s sizzling fiddle work comes courtesy of two-time CMA musician of the year winner Jenee Fleenor.
Styles Haury, “A Man That Didn’t Know Nothin’”
As a teen, he looked at his father as “a man who didn’t know nothin’,” only to look back years later and realize the lessons his old man was trying to impart out of love and wisdom. Haury’s full-throated, warm voice gives this Haury/Bobby Hamrick/Jeremy Bussey co-write an extra shot of grainy authenticity.